September 2, 2012 at 11:43 am 2 comments

Students have misconceptions when they enter our classrooms, and it’s our job as educators to clear up those misconceptions, and  avoid further misconceptions from developing.  In my role as a math coach, teachers often have misconceptions that I’m determined to clear up.  It’s no fault that most teachers have misconceptions, we weren’t all taught for understanding in math, most of us were probably taught very traditionally, by rote and memorization.  That isn’t best practice!  One of the major bonuses of the Common Core State Standards, and there are many, but the one that I think will make a huge difference for teachers, is that these standards will help to clear up many math misconceptions,for teachers as well as students. Let’s talk about  basic number sense for starters.  For years, I’ve heard teachers throw around the words, “number sense” as if it means something to them, only to find out that we don’t really know as much as we thought about “number sense”.  Just like reading and writing, there is an entire learning trajectory that comes with number sense.  The misconception teachers and students have had is that if a child can read and write numerals and count then that means the child has strong number sense.  BUZZ, WRONG!!! All children are born mathematicians, (that means I was too). We have innate number sense the minute we begin our development, and all of a sudden when we make it to school that gets squashed by the rote rules and procedures we’re forced to follow.  If I do nothing else in my role as a math coach, I hope I clear up this misconception for teachers and parents.  I’m pretty sure I’ll do more than this, but just in case, I’m telling you my quest!  Similar to learning to read, children have to make sense of those numerals, also known as symbols that represent quantities.  If you tell a child this is the number five by showing him 5, that’s all he sees, he doesn’t have comprehension or meaning of that symbol, that’s why objects and pictures are so important in math.  Back to the misconception of number sense, I’ve also heard many teachers say, “Well, if she doesn’t get number sense by the end of first grade, she’s never going to get it.”  BUZZ, WRONG AGAIN!  When students are given rich problems to solve, and opportunities to manipulate numbers and find meaning in them, they build number sense.  Whether it’s small quantities or learning to see things in units, such as tens and hundreds, and so on, students make sense of numbers continuously.  We have to present opportunities for them to continue doing this, which translates to provide real life problem solving for your students.  It might take a little more time to think through and plan, but I guarantee the payoff will increase your mathematical knowledge as well as your students! It’s never to late to build number sense! More about how number sense is developed can be found in this article. http://ed.edim.co/4505921/teaching_number_in_the_early_years_nctm.pdf?Expires=1346553771&Signature=f9pYeDynNft6rpZrR3LZieWe92Pa6I1sNCPFa-X2IWvYbJujwFoOQKSe1-I0An2tiOPfrJlvwIEQp44~bgUL~WMnyhAO9dyRypl07XOQ9221ht-31mHan2wIyLK1x-vxOy3t7~amCsMLFZ2reeIdNchTd6Rj5EakShCIO2u9J~s_&Key-Pair-Id=APKAI3N2VAFIZ34RBHFA



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Math Blogging Challenge What can you do?

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Fawn Nguyen  |  September 7, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Hi Kristen. “When students are given rich problems to solve, and opportunities to manipulate numbers and find meaning in them, they build number sense.” I couldn’t agree more. Your job as math coach is so important in helping teachers who were taught via rote memorization and regurgitation (like I was) to create lessons that are challenging and allows for multiple strategies. I have students who think they are “good” in math because they can plug-and-chug and do arithmetic. Unfortunately our state tests are these types of questions, thus kids may score proficient and advanced while they know very little about the beauty and rigor of mathematics.

    Well, I have the pleasure of featuring you on my site this week at http://fawnnguyen.com/2012/09/06/20120905.aspx . Thank you and happy blogging! Fawn

  • 2. crazedmummy  |  September 8, 2012 at 10:29 am

    I love this post. Just giving up is as bad as saying “well, he should have learned it before.” There’s always hope for improvement. Thanks for the reminder.


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Kristen Hahn

September 2012
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